Proteins are vital to life and health. They are the main building blocks of the body and a functional part of all cells including the immune system. Protein helps your body to grow, repair and renew itself. The body cannot store protein so needs it daily to maintain muscle mass and provide the body with its daily needs.
Protein helps build. maintain and repair muscles. Eating enough protein spread throughout the day will help maintain muscle.
Protein is essential for healthy bones alongside calcium and vitamin D.
Hair, skin and nails
Hair and nails are composed of a strong fibrous protein called keratin. Skin is also made up of protein.
A healthy relationship with food and a healthy balanced diet that provides protein, whole-grain complex carbohydrates, good fats, fruits & vegetables in appropriate amounts and frequency for your energy and health needs, being physically active and regular exercise will help weight management.
Eating enough protein spread throughout the day will help maintain muscle. Protein helps you feel satisfied as it takes time to break down.
As we age we lose muscle. Sufficient protein and activity have been shown to off-set age-related loss of muscle mass and help to maintain muscle mass. To maintain muscle mass and strength as we age, the body needs enough protein spread through the day as part of a healthy, balanced diet as well as being physically active.
Aging means the body may not be as efficient at using protein and appetite can decrease with age, so rather than consuming a lot of protein at one time, protein consumption should be spread out evenly throughout the day.
Protein - are you getting enough?
Protein is constantly being used, broken down and reformed so we need to eat protein every day, spread throughout the day.
The Reference Intake for adults for protein is 50g per day. For the general sedentary population the recommendation is set at 0.8g-1.0g per kilogram body weight. For example:
• A woman weighing 63.5kg (10stone) should aim for 51-64.5g protein per day
• A man weighing 82.6kg (13 stone) should aim for 66-83g protein per day
Activity increases the demand for protein, but this depends on how much and what type of exercise you do. Providing energy (calorie) requirements are met, a healthy, varied, balanced diet will provide enough protein to meet any increased requirements without the need for supplements.
Muscle is gained through a combination of resistance training and a diet that contains adequate energy and carbohydrate. According to The British Dietetic Association ‘If you only concentrate on a high protein intake without enough carbohydrate, then the protein will be used for energy instead of being used to build muscle! Additionally, too little carbohydrate will lead to low energy levels, which will make it very difficult for you to train and perform at your best.’
Where is protein found?
Foods vary in the amount of protein they provide and can be split into animal and plant-based sources. The main sources include lean meat, fish, eggs, milk and other dairy foods, pulses (beans and lentils), nuts, seeds, mycoprotein (Quorn), tofu and other soya products, wholegrains.
It is important to eat a variety and spread throughout the day.
Protein intake should be spread out evenly throughout the day, rather than all our daily intake of protein being eaten mainly at our evening meal. Spreading it out helps your body get the most from its protein. Your body can only use so much protein to help in the process of muscle growth and repair. Research has indicated that 25g-30g of protein optimally support this process A serving greater than 30 grams offered no additional benefit.
A lot of people tend to either skip breakfast or get a small amount
of protein at this meal. Typically breakfast is the meal that contains the least protein. Often people think that it’s only a cooked breakfast that provides protein but a portion of wholegrain cereal with milk can provide a healthy portion of protein at breakfast.
|Handful of nuts (23 almonds)||6|
|Sugar-free muesli and 125ml semi-skimmed milk||9.5|
|Wheat biscuits (2) and 125ml semi-skimmed milk||9|
|Wheat biscuits (2) and 125ml semi-skimmed milk||12.1|
• Aim to include protein foods at each meal or snack
• Include protein at breakfast
• Include a variety of protein
• If you are a vegetarian or vegan consume a variety and mixture of plant-based protein sources.
• A healthy, balanced diet means sufficient lean protein, some wholegrain/high fibre starchy carbohydrates, some good fats, plenty of vegetables and fruit
• Stay hydrated
• Be physically active daily